William Cooper – resident of Seddon and Footscray – was a prominent activist for Aboriginal citizenship rights. He was secretary of the Australian Aborigines’ League and actively campaigned for the rights of Aboriginal people at every opportunity.
The weatherboard cottage on Ballarat Road was close by the Kinnear's Rope Works, Ballarat Road which employed a lot of Aboriginal people during the 1930s and 1940s. According to the sequences of Cooper’s letters, it seems to be that 120 Ballarat Road was the first of the three houses in the western suburbs that William Cooper lived in.
William Cooper was politically active from the house in Ballarat Road. It was from here that Cooper certainly authorised and signed many of the letters for which he is famous. He wrote to newspapers, Ministers, Missions. He campaigned tirelessly – often walking to meetings across Melbourne with people in Fitzroy (Doug Nicholls) or Spencer Street Station (Arthur Burdeu).
The Board of Protection for Aborigines, Victoria n.d.
(? September 1933)
On behalf of my people I have the honour to most humbly approach you. Seeking your permission to send to, and have signed by the Aboriginal population under your Charge, the undermentioned petition, a Copy of which is to be forwarded to His Majesty King George V. of England, asking him on our behalf to do his utmost in taking suitable steps in preventing the extinction of the aboriginal race.
Obtaining better conditions for all. Obtaining Power to propose a member of Parliament to be Chosen by My People to represent them in the Federal Parliament.
Trusting That my Humble request will receive every Consideration.
I have the Honour to be yours sir obediently
120 Ballarat Road